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Monday, December 14, 2015

Star Wars: Can it beat "Avatar" in the box office?



In 2005, it appeared that the Star Wars saga was officially over. Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox released Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which completed the prequels trilogy and tied the story back to the first film in the series. It was done...finished. Period. But then come Disney.

In October 2012 the studio brokered a $4.05 billion deal to buy Lucasfilm, and with the deal came the announcement that they would be starting production on a whole new trilogy of Star Wars films that would keep the epic story going for years and years to come.

Now that we are less than a week to the release of the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the question remains: How big will this be?

Can Star Wars: The Force Awakens set new record in the box office?


GALAXY-SIZE EXPECTATIONS?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opening on Friday is already setting records for pre-opening ticket sales....but the expectation is higher....can Star Wars beat "Avatar" in the box office to be the biggest of all time?

The movie is on track to have the biggest December opening ever, topping "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which took in $85 million in the U.S. and Canada on its opening weekend in December 2012.

Ticket seller Fandango says advance ticket sales for "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens" has already topped every other movie and Imax says it has sold double the previous record. Imax receipts account for a third of pre-release sales for this movie.

Whether it bests the biggest grosser of all time — "Avatar," with $2.8 billion worldwide—depends on word of mouth and whether fans love it enough to watch it multiple times through the new year.

The advantage for Star Wars would be a weaker competition for the month...with Marvel's "Deadpool" only coming out in February while Warner Bros.' "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice" coming out somewhere in late March.

THE BUZZ IS BECOMING LOUDER

The buzz is becoming louder on the social media.

"The Force Awakens" had 405 million trailer and teaser views on Facebook and YouTube. That's 87 percent more than this summer's "Jurassic World," which opened domestically with a record $208.8 million in ticket sales and owns the all-time No. 3 spot with $1.7 billion worldwide. No. 2 is "Titanic," at $2.1 billion.

What's more, the 178,000 weekly searches for the movie on Google is more than three times as high as "Jurassic World," which had 51,800 weekly searches a month from release, according to Moviepilot.

"People are searching and craving and demanding content," Moviepilot CEO Tobi Bauckhage said. "That's a very strong signal."

However, history has shown us that advance sales doesn't always equate to record grosses. The first installment of "The Hunger Games" was the leader in advance sales, but topped out at a worldwide gross of $693 million, not even in the all-time Top 10.

What "The Force Awakens" benefits from, however, is interest that now spans multiple generations. The movie also has a much bigger Chinese box office to tap. "Avatar" pulled down a monstrous $204 million in China through 2010, but the theatrical market there is now at least three times as big.

THE BIGGEST QUESTION MARK

Probably the biggest question mark remains is the movie itself...no one has seen it yet and the expectation has been set. With such a strong brand name itself, the excitement for the franchise alone will make this a hit but whether it can beat "Avatar" to be in the all time big, the movie has to deliver...and it has to deliver amid all these expectations and buzz on the movie.


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